As you might expect for such a modern, high concept field, the aquatic hotel scene is evolving all the time.
Because of the huge cost and complexity, many projects stall before completion. Take the Poseidon Undersea Resort, a giant seafloor wonderland off a private island in Fiji, that’s spent the last decade hindered by development difficulties.
But there’s already a range of outlets offering the chance of a sub-aquatic sleep, often in the most luxurious surroundings…
An eye-wateringly opulent hotel with outrageous quirks of modern engineering, atop a man-made island in the shape of the palm tree that gives it its name? Yep, it could only be Dubai.
A favourite with celebs (Justin Timberlake and Robert De Niro have both visited) it’s the kind of hotel that has its own shade of aqua blue used only in the resort, and a entire range of toiletries exclusive to it’s seven signature suites. Two of those suites directly overlook the extraordinary marine life of Ambassador Lagoon.
The lagoon is admittedly man-made (the technical term is ‘open air aquarium’) but this guarantees good views of the 65,000 rays, sharks and other creatures that call the waters their home. If you can afford the US $10,000 it costs to spend the night in one of the underwater suites, you’ll also get a private butler, a private elevator, and 24-carat gold flakes on the soap.
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Would you be willing to spend the night underwater? If so, Tanzania has the perfect place for you. The Underwater Room at Manta Resort is a little wooden structure tethered to the ocean floor where you can sunbathe, stargaze, and of course, check out life as it plays out underwater. Too cool or too scary? 🇹🇿🌊🐠
A standalone residence off the coast of Pemba Island in the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar, the Manta Resort operates on three levels.
First, there is your underwater bedroom, tethered steadfastly to the seabed, offering intimate views of the shoals of fish that huddle by your windows for protection from predators. Secondly, there’s sea level – a shaded area with cushions, a well-stocked fridge and quite exquisite snorkelling. Finally, there’s a roof terrace set up perfectly for stargazing, miles from any sound or light pollution.
With only your fishy companions for company, the Manta Resort possesses the extraordinary quality of genuine seclusion – except of course for the attendant ready to sail over at your call.
The Rangali Island Resort is no stranger to underwater firsts. It was the first hotel in the Maldives to build hotel rooms on stilts emerging from the ocean; it was the first to open an underwater (and five star) restaurant; and now it’s the first hotel in the world to boast an entire sub-aquatic villa.
Connected to the main hotel by a long pier, the Muraka (‘coral’ in the local Dhivehi language) is a newly-opened sunken suite that’s perhaps more like a Bond villain’s HQ than anything else on the tourist market. When you think ‘underwater hotel’, this is probably what pops into your mind – a futuristic vision of curved glass and shimmering blue.
If, by some unfortunate circumstance, you don’t have thousands of pounds to blow on a night beneath the sea, then this whimsical Scandinavian lake-shack is the place to be. The brainchild of Swedish artist and sculptor Mikael Genberg, this small but oddly charming hut bobs atop the surface of Lake Mälaren near Stockholm, and features a basement bedroom three metres below the surface of the water.
Guests are transported from shore, given an inflatable canoe, and left to get on with it. Though lacking the crystal-clear, azure waters of the Maldives, the submerged suite still offers a satisfyingly steady stream of fish – particularly if it’s dark and you’ve got the lights on.
Utter Inn is the perfect place to get away from it all. Canoe to a nearby uninhabited island, go from a swim if you’re feeling stoic – your time is entirely your own.
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No luxury hotel gimmicks here, this a full-on submarine experience which can only be accessed by scuba diving. The only underwater hotel in the United States, Jules’ Undersea Lodge lies 21ft beneath the waters of Key Largo, Florida, and you’ll have to swim all 21 of them.
The lodge itself has large circular portholes looking out over the floor of the Emerald Lagoon, hot showers, a microwave and movies on demand. Spend the night or simply pop in for lunch – pizza, lobster, baked potatoes, and filet mignon can be delivered to your door by a diver with a waterproof box.
Only certified scubas need apply, though you may be able to do your training as part of your holiday; the lodge offers a brief and basic training course for novices.
- Press Association